AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
We've been exploring what remains in Afghanistan following the exit of U.S. forces. And today, we hear from the resistance that's not only trying to fend off Taliban fighters, but also the Taliban's messaging about who has the upper hand. Afghanistan's national resistance front is led by Ahmad Massoud. He and the fighters in his effort are headquartered in the hard-to-reach Panjshir Province. Earlier today, we spoke with the head of Foreign Relations for the resistance, Ali Nazary. He denied any reports that the Taliban has taken over Panjshir.
ALI NAZARY: We have 20 years of experience with the Taliban propaganda machine. And that - it is not a credible source for reporting any type of incident, event. Since yesterday, the Taliban launched their largest offensive on Panjshir because they had plans to announce their government on Friday. Fortunately, our forces bravely fought them. They repelled all of their attacks. Not only did they repel all their attacks on Panjshir, but the Taliban retreated from many districts around Panjshir.
CORNISH: What do you think the goal is of the propaganda itself? What is the message that you think the Taliban is trying to send in doing this, not to the West, but within the country?
NAZARY: So because they're unable to win the physical war, they're resorting to a propaganda war right now. Because for the past week, they've been attacking Panjshir from all sides. And they've been repelled right now, as we speak. And they're trapped. And they're negotiating a surrender at the moment.
CORNISH: Does this mean that you also are in communication with the Taliban? Is there any kind of negotiation, so to speak?
NAZARY: We do have our line of communication. After August 15, we extended an olive branch saying that instead of fighting, instead of perpetual conflict in Afghanistan, let's come together and open a dialogue and see if we could form an inclusive government. So our message...
CORNISH: So what has their answer been? Because, of course, we are now hearing their reports that they plan to push ahead with forming their government. They're talking about the names they're putting forward for their leadership.
NAZARY: The Taliban - they say they want to form an inclusive government, but in action, they haven't shown anything. In order for them to form an inclusive government, they have to include all ethnic groups, all political forces, all political parties from throughout the country, both women and men. Unfortunately, right now in their government that they're forming, they're ignoring 50% of the society, which are women.
CORNISH: Now, thinking back just a few days ago, Ahmad Massoud, leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, wrote in The Washington Post that you needed support from the West. What kind of response are you getting?
NAZARY: What we believe is that the narrative that is being spread throughout the Western world and everywhere is that the conflict in Afghanistan is an internal conflict. It's a civil war. We refute this. Right now we're not only fighting against the Taliban. We're fighting against al-Qaida.
CORNISH: So you see a direct security consequence, you're saying, for the U.S. in the Taliban's takeover.
NAZARY: Of course. The whole world has abandoned us. We're all alone. We're not receiving any type of assistance. And I've been conveying this, that just how in the '90s, the United States and the rest of the Western world ignored the threat of al-Qaida inside Afghanistan. And we saw events like 9/11. The same will repeat itself again. So what we're looking for in the West, especially in the United States, is to prevent any sort of recognition for this movement that is trying to unilaterally form a government that still has strong connections with transnational terrorism. This is not a movement or force to be recognized.
CORNISH: That's Ali Nazary, head of foreign relations for Afghanistan's National Resistance Front.
Thank you for speaking with us.
NAZARY: Thank you for having me.
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